Are you more ‘T’ than me? Discrimination among trans* people.

Are you more ‘T’ than me?  Let me ask it this way.   Are you more of a trans* person than I am?  What started this question was a phone call I had with another transwoman who had completed her SRS ten years ago.  She is well known in the local community as a resource, guide and a tireless defender of trans* people.  It was recommended that I speak with her by a mutual acquaintance.  During our chat, she asked, “What are you?”  I was unclear, then she asked, “How far are you going?  Are you going to have sexual reassignment surgery?”  I replied that I did not anticipate having the surgery, just live full-time.  She shot back, “I don’t work with you people.  If you aren’t going all the way, then I don’t want to be bothered.  I only want to help people who are committed.  I don’t do makeup and hair and all that stuff. You’ll need to find someone else.”  I was shocked at first.  We continued to talk and found much common ground between us.  The conversation was lively, poignant, brutally honest, funny and ultimately a huge help.  I came away with a lot of insight and much to ponder and a tremendous amount of respect for her and her work in our community, but also a realization that discrimination exists in the trans* community.  My naiveté originally made me think all of us trans* people were kindred spirits and we were all sisters and brothers. Alas, not so.

I had hoped our shared struggles, blessings and experiences would have permitted us to rise above these biases.  However, what I am seeing is the trans* community is as diverse as the cisgender community.  Some of us are nice and some are not.  Many of us are accepting and inclusive and many are not.  We are like everyone else in we deal with our own biases and preconceived notions.  I see these biases in gay and lesbian community too.  Many gay men don’t associate with lesbians and vice versa and being bisexual seems to draw fire from both camps.  My son has a long-time dear female friend who is also a lesbian.  She has received criticism from some of her peers for hanging out with “that straight guy”.  It seems a case could be made that the LGBTQ community is just like everyone else when it comes to living with our own.

We all have a place in the trans* community and we all need to stand together.  Am I considered less of a woman then the post-op because I chose to be non-op?  Is a post-op less of a woman than a cisgender woman?  Do I as a transwoman have more standing in the trans* community then the crossdresser?  Do drag kings and queens deserve less respect then genderqueers?  No, we are not less.  Yes, we deserve the same respect. Gender is in your head and your heart and your soul.  Gender is not genitalia, nor is it the outcome of a surgical procedure.  It is all how we chose to express and present ourselves.  It is how we choose to live our lives and be the people we are meant to be.  If I like to wear dresses and heels, use makeup and wear jewelry, then that’s my expression and it is not better or worse than my trans sister who chooses to wear flannel, jeans and Doc Martens. It’s how we choose to present and live as we truly are.  It is how we chose to present, live and be who we are.   Are you more ‘T’ than me?  I don’t think so.

6 thoughts on “Are you more ‘T’ than me? Discrimination among trans* people.

  1. Cate,

    I too have slammed into the same self-segregation among the LGBT. Furthermore, I confess, that I too was not conscious of my own bias against those “less T than me” until a CD/TV sister rubbed my nose in my own p**p. My thanks to her for the honest critical view of my own remarks. I was not uncivil to anyone, but the bias was clear in my written words’ subtext – “you are less T than me, cuz you do not take hormones”. Of course, that same attitude must also accept that “I am less T than you, cuz I am non-op”. Well, the desire to categorize and identify “us vs. them” is very human, but also very destructive, in my opinion. I would also argue that there is not a continuum of trans* from CD/TV to TG to TS as a simple search of the Web will reveal MtF transexuals (the Big Surgery) that are “butch”! Some MtF-TS need to change their sex but not their gender and so remain “male-ish” as a butch lesbian. Where does that fit on the trans* continuum? Nowhere of course as the idea of identifiable sex (between your legs) and gender (between your ears) and orientation (between you and your lover) is not needed by anyone to simply “choose to present, live and be who we are” (Cate, 2013). How flexible and adaptable are we humans!

    I offer my continuing thanks for your blog and for you.

    hugs,
    Sylvia

    1. Sylvia,

      It is a difficult lesson we all must learn to be inclusive and accepting, even within our own community. I’m so happy you shared your story and you continue to come back to the blog. I look forward to hearing more of your journey.

      Hugs,

      Cate

  2. Transsexual women are misgendered at birth and stuck with the wrong body but most of all, stuck with the wrong life.

    We know that we are truly women, but these things prevent us from living as we believe we should. When we decide to shed the old life, we can use medication and surgery to a greater or lesser extent to help us in doing so and live as we should. However, how much or how little we do so has no bearing on whether we are women. We always were women, and we always will be.

    The oft quoted Chaz Bono statement about gender being between the ears not the legs is so true.

    This kind of snobbery by post op T women is sickening and all too prevalent here in the uk. Along with the pecking order that exists all along the transition path. It almost seems that routinely when T women meet for the first time there is a compulsion to find out quickly where in the transition process, or the euphamistically named “journey”, each other is, leading to a sort of hierarchical placement dictating who looks down on who.

    It is for these reasons I tend to avoid discussing my own medical transition. As far as I am concerned I have given up the old male life, so journey over. After that, any changes I make physiologically, to help me in my chosen life, is my personal medical business.

    Surely, anyone who ever believed they where a woman trapped in a man’s body (or some variation of that) cannot believe that it is the body that makes them a woman. Where it counts, they are one already

    x

    1. Marianne,

      I cannot agree with you more and I hope my post stated it as well and as forcefully as you have done. When we know in our hearts and minds that our bodies do not match or gender, than we are complete and neither surgery or hormones or the decision not to employ them does not diminish who we are.

      Cate

  3. Hi Cate,

    Wanted to see who you were and I’m glad I did. It’s always with dismay when I read about the discrimination within the T-community. Had an online T-friend that I met as she was finishing her SRS in Bangkok. She freely helped me understand the process eventhough I was “only a crossdresser”. She worked in retail and was paranoid about being friends openly with any CD in case it reflected on her being trans. Would not even help T customers at her store. I have a hard time with this attitude as my own personal TS friends are all very accepting of all in the community. As long as these attitudes prevail, we never be seen as a unified and supportive group and it’s problem enough we we already are the forgotten sisters in the LGBT. Anyway love your writing. We need all the folks that are inclusive as possible. Hugs….Tasi

    1. Hi Tasi,

      It seems strange to me, also, that we as a community find it necessary to be biased against some of our own. I like to think that through your efforts and your web presence and hopefully mine also, we can build a bigger, stronger and inclusive community. Thank you for all you are doing and reading my blog.

      Hugs, Cate

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